When “Local” is a Curse

One of the major advancements in the internet in the last few years is a greater emphasis on Local marketing. The internet evolved through a few phases, and is finally to the point where enough businesses have websites that local marketing is effective for some businesses, especially those in larger metro areas.

We find that it is a curse, and not a blessing, most of the time. This happens for two reasons:

  1. Our business is national. We rarely gain ANY clients from our local area, and even when we do, they do not find us by searching for THEIR town. Because in Wyoming, ALL of Wyoming is “local”. But internet promotional systems don’t see it that way. They see a town as being local, and anything outside of that being something else. So here we are, in a town of less than 300 people. Seriously. When we do make “local” sales, they are NOT in the town we live in. They are at least 60 miles away. Most internet systems consider a radius of only 50 miles. We don’t have enough people within that radius, and cows and antelope are unlikely to care about owning a good website, or learning to be a webmaster. Using local promotion, in this instance, is completely useless, and you don’t have to hear the “moo” to figure that out.
  2. We promote to other areas. In this instance, geo-targeting is helpful, but the implementation is often a hindrance. We found a new “local” promotional engine online. It could have been VERY useful for promoting our seminars, which ARE local to major cities in the US. However, they required that we enter OUR address, and based all search capacity on that address, NOT on where we were offering the local service. And they were not the same, because we travel to various locations in the US. Again, the system was unable to accommodate what is actually a fairly common need. So even when local promotion SHOULD help us, someone else’s system has tunnel vision and cannot see a use outside the one they envisioned.

Local search and promotion has been a fairly useless thing for us so far. While we can target some paid ads, free resources which make a big deal over regional promotion based on our physical location are completely useless. There are no customers here!

We had an SEO pro once give us some assistance in optimizing our site. She got all hung up on the local search thing, and could not seem to understand that the entire state of Wyoming has significantly less than 1 million people, and that there are only a couple of searches per day for Wyoming based search terms, almost all of which are monopolized by companies from other states who assume that all states are created equal, so they go after all 50 states. It simply wasn’t a worthwhile expenditure of energy to attempt to dominate the search engines for Wyoming related terms, when it would not result in any significant number of site visitors, let alone actual conversions. Interestingly enough, we’ve had better success from having the word “Canada” in our pages than from having the word “Wyoming” in them.

I haven’t yet figured out if there is a solution that would allow us to capitalize on local search for our Workshops. It does not seem practical to attempt to set up multiple profiles to target multiple regions, because they all do share the same business name, and I don’t have a physical address or mailing address in all the areas we will be traveling to. Yet most systems do not even consider any kind of situation like this.

I also know there must be many other kinds of businesses who have a target market located somewhere other than where their physical location is situated. And I guess they are left out in the cold as well.

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